Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?
Most cancer patients who go through chemotherapy will experience hair loss. Chemotherapy drugs target fast-growing cells in the body, but cannot tell the difference between cancer cells and other cells like hair follicles. This results in hair loss all over the body.
Whether or not hair loss occurs depends on the type and dosage of the chemotherapy drug. Ask your doctor if your chemotherapy treatment will result in hair loss so you can be prepared.
Hair loss from chemotherapy usually begins seven to 21 days after treatment begins and starts to grow back after treatment ends. Some people start getting hair back during treatment. The time it takes to re-grow hair can vary from 3-12 months. Sometimes the new hair will have a different texture or color.
Coping With Hair Loss from Chemotherapy
While hair loss from chemotherapy can’t be prevented, there are ways to cope:
- Consider cutting your hair short or shaving your head once hair loss begins
- Use mild shampoos and soft hair brushes
- Avoid blow dryers, curling irons, and other hot appliances
- Keep your scalp clean and moisturized to prevent skin problems
- Protect your scalp from the sun with hats, wigs or sunscreen
- Be creative! Use colorful scarves, turbans or hats. Make sure your headwear is not too tight or irritating to your scalp.
- Wigs are an option, although good-quality wigs can be expensive. Check with your insurance company to see if your plan will help cover the cost.